Ringling to Export Tigers: Deal Violates Endangered Species Act, Says PETA

Published by Zachary Toliver.

Update: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has spat on the federal Endangered Species Act by allowing a Ringling Bros. circus big-cat trainer to squeeze some final dollars out of these already exploited animals.

To send eight tigers, six lions, and one leopard overseas for use in German circuses— in exchange for a promised payment to a conservation group in India— violates the letter and the spirit of a law enacted specifically to prevent commercial exploitation of big cats and other animals.

Ringling shut down because today’s audiences can’t stomach seeing wild animals being caged and whipped into performing stupid tricks, and now these big cats are to continue suffering in circuses, instead of living in sanctuaries.

PETA fought Ringling for decades and won, and will fight this shady deal just as vigorously. You can help!

Originally published July 21, 2017:

Despicable to its core, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has failed to free the animals it has exploited for years, despite shutting down months ago.

Just weeks after announcing that Ringling Bros. would be closing, the circus’s parent company, Feld Entertainment, applied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for an Endangered Species Act (ESA) permit to export eight tigers, six lions, and a leopard “owned” by trainer Alexander Lacey to Germany so that he can continue to exploit them in a circus.

The ESA is designed to protect imperiled animals from exploitation, and exceptions are allowed only if permit applicants demonstrate that their activities will enhance the survival of the species. As you can imagine, exporting tigers, lions, and leopards to keep them inside tiny cages and force them to perform stupid circus tricks does nothing to help endangered species in the wild.

Instead, Feld wants to buy its way around the law by promising to make a payment to a tiger-conservation organization in India. Authorizing an ESA permit for activities that exploit wild animals on the basis of a “pay-to-play” donation is unlawful, and the permit must be denied.

Longtime Ringling Bros. nemeses PETA, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida have submitted joint comments to oppose Feld Entertainment’s request. Twenty-four members of Congress have also opposed this export permit based on its illegal “pay-to-play” grounds.

A corrupt company that profits off living beings and reduces them to pieces of property, Feld has a long history of animal abuse.

In 2004, a young lion named Clyde baked to death in a Ringling boxcar traveling through the desert. The circus was also cited after a poorly ventilated transport trailer became so hot that a lion tore off a cage door and broke off his or her teeth in an effort to escape.

In 2016, PETA published a report written by Jay Pratte, a big-cat expert, who observed Ringling shows and found that tigers used by the circus company suffered from “neglect as well as ongoing physical and psychological trauma and are not provided with the proper care and welfare necessary for any felid species.”

What You Can Do

Take your family to see only animal-free circuses. This latest shameful act by Feld Entertainment shows exactly how little circuses care about the animals they force to perform confusing, uncomfortable, repetitious, and often painful acts. Speak out for all animals imprisoned under the big top.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind